Go to Confession and Holy Communion regularly. Participate in the Church's sacramental life.
- Father Thomas Hopko
(Maxim number twelve)
I didn't grow up with Confession. It wasn't until I converted to Orthodox Christianity in my twenties that I first became aware of the incredible healing and resorative effects of participating in this sacrament. You can read more HERE about my personal experience with not only coming to terms with but learning to embrace Confession as an essential tool for staying focused on, and moving forward down, that narrow path towards salvation.
Anyway, while saying evening prayers yesterday with my older two from this wonderful little prayer book compiled by Christina Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) called "Growing in Prayer," I glanced ahead at the "Preparation for Confession" section before turning in for the night myself. This afternoon, I read it again, a tad more slowly. It is, being written for kids and all, clear and simple, and yet how strongly I could relate to the insightful questions being asked, based upon the, dare I say, sometimes overly familiar Ten Commandments. Those questions made me think, made me squirm in a good way.
Things are hoppin' around the Sabourin house: gifts are being wrapped, cards mailed, plans nailed down; tomorrow I'm volunteering for my daughter's class Christmas party. This is a festive season, for sure, but should also, for those of us anticipating the birth of Christ, be one of deep introspection. I'd like to share with you in this post the entire text of that Confession preparation section of our family's "Growing in Prayer" book. I pray it inspires and challenges you (to Love ever more both God and your neighbor), as it has me:
Preparation for Confession
from "Growing Prayer: a Child's Orthodox Prayer Book"
copyright 2009 by Christina Taylor
"I am the Lord Thy God; Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me."
Have I tried to love God? Have I tried to remember Him and pray to Him daily? Have I forgotten to ask God for help? Have I thought more about myself than about God?
"Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Graven Image"
Have I put God first in my life? Do I care more about the way I look, my clothes, my friends, having fun or anything else more than God? Have I been scared of people making fun of me for my faith? Have I tried to prepare for receiving Holy Communion?
"Thou shalt Not Take Thy Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain"
Have I treated the Lord's name with love and care? Have I treated holy things properly?
"Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy."
Have I tried to make Sunday special and holy? Have I gone to Church on Feast days? Do I complain about going to church?
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother."
Have I shown respect and thankfulness towards my parents? Have I disobeyed them? Have I been helpful? Have I shown respect to my priest, teachers, grandparents and elders?
"Thou shalt Not Kill"
Have I been angry or wished someone to be hurt? Have I hurt others with what I say or do? Have I helped those who needed help? Have I been mean or talked badly about anyone? Have I forgiven those who have hurt me? Have I been kind to all?
"Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultry."
Have I wanted to be admired by others? Have I been vain about my body and clothing? Have I been loyal to my family and friends?
"Thou Shall Not Steal."
Have I stolen anything? Have I cheated in my schoolwork or in games? Have I kept anything that did not belong to me? Have I given to the Church and to the needy? Have I been generous, or do I hide things away for myself?
"Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness."
Have I lied to anyone? Have I kept the truth a secret? Do I judge other people for the sins that I also do? Have I been fair to all, especially those younger than me?
"Thou Shalt Not Covet."
Have I been happy with what I have or do I want what others have too? Have I been sad when others receive gifts? Have I complained? Have I been thankful to God for all His blessings to me?